Viewpoint

Solar bill not all it’s cracked up to be

Duke Energy and legislative leaders sold our state a bag of beans with the “Competitive Energy Solutions” bill (“Legislation would make it easier to have rooftop solar panels” June 7). Hyped as a consensus bill, HB 589 was actually negotiated behind closed doors (environmental groups were shut out following months of stakeholder meetings) then fast-tracked for approval without public input.

While possibly providing a short-term, limited boost to a few large-scale solar producers, this bill will further damage North Carolina’s rooftop solar industry and protect Duke’s monopoly.

The key selling point, “589 will open up rooftop solar leasing, hurray!” is deceptive and hollow. Already allowed by state law, leasing rarely works for solar companies or customers. A similar, competitive practice that does work for many, third-party sales, would be killed.

Even worse, the bill allows Duke Energy to attack rooftop solar by adding fees to customers and lowering net metering payments. Duke would decide when and how much power it will purchase from large-scale solar producers, bid against them for projects, and offer less favorable terms.

Finally, your article misstated the cost of rooftop solar. The full price now runs $10-15,000 for the average home, a great deal for those able to afford it.

North Carolinians deserve democratic state policy-making, not backroom deals followed by deceptive publicity.

Rita Leadem is the assistant director of NC WARN, a Durham nonprofit focused on climate change. Email: rita@ncwarn.org.

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